We are pleased to present an overview of BCAC and IAF’s preliminary application to AAFC’s Agricultural Climate Solutions Program (ACS). This initial concept has been developed based on conversations with key partners and a review of past research programs and producer engagement efforts in British Columbia.
In April 2021, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced the launch of the Agricultural Climate Solutions Program. This program supports the development and implementation of farming practices that mitigate climate change and provide other environmental benefits.
To develop effective practices through sound research and adoption, there is a two-phase application process for ACS. Phase 1 applications are due June 15, 2021 and will provide successful applicants up to $100,000 to develop a comprehensive proposal for ACS funding. This fulsome application will be submitted to AAFC through Phase 2, which we are anticipating will open later this Fall.
To arrive at a full application later this year, Phase 1 will be largely focused on building relationships and networks between farmers, research scientists and other specialists with the goal of developing research projects that result in practices farmers are keen to adopt.
Why BCAC and IAF?
In collaboration with our sector stakeholders, BC Agriculture Council (BCAC) and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC (IAF) are developing a joint application for Phase 1 of ACS. Our two organizations play a significant role in the BC agriculture sector and have membership and reach that include the majority of the province’s agricultural commodities and span all areas of the province. With IAF’s robust program administration processes and government relationships and BCAC’s producer relations expertise and on-farm program delivery experience, we are confident that we can work across the BC agriculture sector to successfully develop an application for the ACS.
Our ACS application will focus on two main objectives:
- Living Lab Research: Investing in farmer-centric projects that address gaps in climate change mitigation research in BC
- Production Adoption: Encouraging the implementation of effective Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that address climate and environment issues, beyond the scope of current programs
These two main objectives will help us ensure research and development activities directly lead to increased adoption of BMPs on BC farms. More BMPs will allows us to measure and quantify the results of our climate mitigation efforts – an important objective for everyone involved in this work.
Objective 1: Living Lab Research
The IAF and BCAC application to the ACS will use a production systems approach to implement the Living Labs model. The program, designed by AAFC, is currently focused on soil-based BMPs that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon. As a result, we are planning to include the following production systems in this preliminary application:
These three systems will be confirmed through industry consultation and a review of existing research on climate mitigation practices. Representation from the commodities within each identified system and across relevant growing regions in BC will be an important aspect of the application development process.
In Phase 1, we will form sub-networks for each of these three production systems. These groups will be responsible for setting their research priorities; ensuring strong connections between scientists, farmers, and NGOs; and, identifying projects that will result in high-impact BMPs. Sub-network leads will be identified early in the process and will come together with BCAC and IAF to form the core project team. Each sub-network will be provided funding and human resource support to ensure their research plans can be well-developed and that meaningful engagement within and across the sector can take place.
IAF and BCAC will provide general parameters for what sub-network projects need to include, based on industry priorities and ACS parameters. An important goal of this initiative will be to collect data and information on climate related BMPs to demonstrate the positive impact BC agricultural producers have on greenhouse gas reduction, carbon sequestration, and associated benefits. These co-benefits may include biodiversity, clean water, and species at risk protection.
Objective 2: Producer Adoption
An important objective for IAF and BCAC’s application to the ACS will be producer adoption of the selected BMPs. Research on environmental BMPs for farmland has been well-developed over the last several years in BC and there have been many efforts to connect researchers to farmers and producer associations. We intend to build on these efforts and help move BC agriculture fully into the adoption phase of climate change mitigation BMPs.
The sub-networks will be asked to provide recommendations to BCAC and IAF to encourage widespread implementation of select practices beyond the knowledge translation and transfer activities that will need to happen for each funded project. These recommendations will then be reviewed and rolled up into the final application for ACS. We intend to leverage other funding sources throughout our ACS endeavours to ensure farmers have the resources they need to adopt proven and effective climate change mitigation BMPs and that these efforts can be sustained over the long-term.
The Producer Adoption component of our application will be careful not to duplicate any other programs or initiatives that the provincial or federal governments are leading, but rather fill gaps in areas that are unique or high priority for BC producers.
Phase 1 Activities
If our application to Phase 1 of ACS is successful, we will be undertaking five main activities throughout the project development phase (September to December 2021):
In Step 2, we are hoping to work with the BC Agricultural Climate Adaptation Research Network (ACARN) and the Climate and Agriculture Initiative (CAI) to develop resources on the state of climate mitigation science in BC, with the goal of supporting the sub-networks in their planning and prioritization efforts.
In Steps 3 and 4, the sub-networks will have access to resources and support from the core project team at BCAC and IAF. These will include financial resources to host workshops and engage relevant experts and facilitation/technical support to engage with partners and stakeholders and refine research plans.
Research projects developed in Step 4 will need to focus on environmental benefits, particularly relating to GHG emissions reduction, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and species at risk. Examples of the practices that the sub-networks may decide to focus their projects on include:
This proposal development approach is intended to give BC producers a lead role in identifying and testing the practices they are interested in adopting and connecting them with scientists to ensure those measures are robust and provide tangible results.
If our application to Phase 1 of ACS is successful, we will be immediately moving forward with confirming the production systems approach, identifying sub-network leads, and consolidating the existing research on climate change mitigation BMPs. We will post updates on this website and through our email newsletters about how you or your organization can get involved. We look forward to working closely with industry and sector stakeholders throughout our journey with the ACS.
If you have questions or comments about the approach described above or BCAC and IAF’s application to the ACS, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can be contacted via email at info(at)iafbc.ca.